Sky of the Wolf: Chapter 5

Translator: Hasr11

Editor: Gold Swallow

First published on Ainushi

Trigger warning: There’s child abuse in this chapter. And a lil’ but of violence in general.

Rain, Then Sun.

I was treated as special ever since my birth.
‘The Beloved Child’ was a precious existence that brought together God and the Beastmen.
I was called Lord Firiel by my parents and even people on the streets.
I was treated preciously, as if cocooned up in silk, but I wasn’t treated the same as everyone.
—I was lonely.
I came to know that feeling was loneliness when I met Rio.

When I went out to the town like usual, there was an unusual person who came and talked to me. I ate the sweets he offered me, and when he told me he’d show me something special, I followed him and started feeling sleepy.
When I woke up, I was inside iron bars. The handcuffs and shackles were sturdy enough that even Beastmen couldn’t break out of them. I knew I had been kidnapped and my body trembled with fear.
“He’s too much of a runt. His fur is certainly unusual though.”
“So ya sayin’ we gotta sell him cheap for that. If we let this catch stay here, he’ll fetch a high penny in a few years, won’t ‘e?”
After that exchange, the iron bars were opened, and I was dragged out by my handcuffs. I was then thrown behind another set of iron bars, and the journey this time was much, much longer than the one before.
Three years passed. I was always inside the iron bars, and ate whatever I was given. But it was never enough and my stomach would always growl, I was always naked and cold, but the only saving grace was that I wasn’t lashed with a whip like the other kids.
The other kids were quiet when the adults were around, but spoke badly of them when they weren’t around, so I didn’t like them. Beasts, mongrels, mutts. —It seemed Beastmen were hated in this country.

Am I always gonna be like this? —I want to see the sky.
Clang, the iron bars opened one day.
Only my shackles were removed and I obediently followed the single order ‘Get out’.
The room I was brought to was excessively luxurious.
There was an additional person, other than the ones who always hit the other kids with a whip.
—I hate this smell. The smell of the blood of many of my kind.
My fur stood on its end, and my pupils grew wide. I bared my fanged and crouched low, ready to fight.
“This is really unusual. It’s pitch-black.”
“Whatever, he’s ’God’s Beloved Child’ it seems. He’s treasured, so it’ll be 3 times the usual. What do ya’ say?”
“—I’ll buy him. I’ll enjoy breaking the soul of such a rebellious kid.”
So, when shall we deliver him? Tomorrow? Then, behind the church. We’ll wash him up a bit and make him wear clothes. You can pay at that time—.
Deliver. Tomorrow. Church. Pay.
My ears picked up those words, and when the man with the bad smell left—I have to escape. Moved by such a feeling, I bit the throat of the whip man.
The man let out a shriek and covered the spot from where the blood was oozing out. Before he could call out for help, I grabbed the man’s robe which he had hung on the chair and ran.
I didn’t know the way, but I ran in the direction of the smell of rain.
I pulled the robe over my head, falling down and getting up many times on my weak legs, and ran into the rain.

—Somehow, I escaped.
The pouring rain erased my footprints, and although the pursuers came, because I had much better ears than humans, I took care not to make my footsteps heard when I ran.
Because I dragged along the shackles on my feet when I walked within the iron bars for many years, it had been a long time since I ran, so I fell down many, many times.
But when I fell down, the lock on handcuffs that were hidden by the robe broke open, so it was a blessing in disguise.
Maybe, if he’d said the delivery was today, I’d have been handed over, lock and all.
That was close.
As I looked up at the sky I hadn’t seen for a long time, it was shadowed by huge and heavy thunderclouds.
It was unfortunate, but I’m sure I’ll be able to see it anytime in the future.
Under the eaves of a closed shop, I rubbed my tired feet and crouched.
—I’m tired.
When I realised that, I couldn’t move any more.
Listening to the sound of the falling raindrops, I hugged my knees and buried my face in them.
Splash, splash, with a sound, someone with a pleasant smell was standing in front of me.
When I raised my head, the person in the robe was looking at me.
—The Sky.
The colour of the clear skies. The eyelashes wet with raindrops were a sparkling gold. I’ve never seen anything as beautiful.
When I blinked my eyes, the person talked a lot.

‘Where are your parents? Where’s your home? Will you go to the church?’
I shook my head repeatedly at the questions. Church. Scary.
Hmm, the person who was lost in thought asked, ‘Will you come to my house?’
When I nodded unhesitantly, he laughed a bit and then with his back facing me, he crouched.
—?
When I cocked my head in confusion at what he was doing, he said, “I’ll carry you on my back, so put your hands around my neck.” I understood it was the thing my mom did for my little brother in the past. Because I was the Beloved Child, nobody did it for me.
I slowly put my arms around his neck. Even though the hood of the robe separated us… It’s warm.
I was slowly and lightly lifted up and carried with swaying motions.I lost my strength in the comfort.

✣✣✣

I was nodding off a little, but I pretended to be awake when we reached home.
I was put down and handed a towel, and told to take off my clothes and wipe myself down, but —what should I do?
I’m naked under the robe and I can’t hide my ears and tail. That person who laughs so kindly, would also not do so when he finds out I’m a Beastman. He’ll get angry, he’ll hit me, and then he’ll throw me out —scary.
Patter, patter, the person who was moving about came back and picked me up, while scolding me, saying, “You haven’t wiped yourself down at all! You haven’t even taken off your robe! Take a bath just like that for the time being!” It was the first time someone got angry at me like that so as I blinked my eyes, I was brought to the bathtub and my robe was pulled off. Even when I grabbed on to it tight and offered resistance, it was yanked off with force. —Scary.
I closed my eyes tightly and made myself small.
That person was troubled for a moment, but he then touched me with unchanging kindness. He carefully washed my body, and even my ears and tail.
When he handed over a towel to me, he too took off his clothes immediately.
—A man.[1]
I’ve only been surprised. I was surprised when he carried me on his back, surprised when he got angry. And now, I was surprised that the angel-like person was actually a man.
—Is it a dream?
Maybe everything is a dream, and I’m still behind the iron bars, and I’ll be taken tomorrow to the church and handed over to that person with a bad smell.
—It’d be nice if I could always stay inside this dream.

✣✣✣

When he asked my name, I tried answering, but my voice didn’t come out.
I flapped my mouth, but my voice wouldn’t come out no matter what, and when I looked down with downcast eyes, I was patted on my head.
My hair was ruffled and even my ears were played with at times. —It tickles.
When I narrowed my eyes at being patted for the first time, I was given the name Neil. I’m happy.

My life from then on was really like a dream, but it wasn’t a dream.
When I wake up in the morning, there’d always be a warmth next to me, and I’d pretend to be asleep till Rio woke up.
Because he’d always hug me tight as soon as he woke up.
I slept facing him before, but if he realised I woke up before he did, he would not hug me, so I sleep with my back facing him now. It’s difficult for it to get revealed that I was only pretending if my back faces him.

Summer came and went, and it was now winter.
I like winter. I’m hugged even tighter than usual.
While saying, “Mmn〜 natural hot water bottle,” he places his chin between my ears and hugs me tightly, and my tail sways because of happiness.
It tickled when he occasionally giggled, but I felt at ease when my whole body was hugged.
—I’m happy.
Such happiness, I didn’t know of until now.

Summer came again, and it’d soon be a year since I came here.
I was always hungry, but Rio fed me a lot of things so my height grew a lot.
I’d help out with the weeding everyday, so my skin turned black and I liked it.
When my fur started shedding the first time, Rio was quite unreasonable and bought a brush, and maintained it every day, so my ears and tail were now soft and smooth. It was a pity there wasn’t anyone to show it off to, but it’s fine because Rio happily buries his face in them[2].
As I silently pulled out the weeds, I thought of the day’s dinner.
Everything Rio makes tastes delicious, but his Goats Milk Stew tastes the best. But he only makes it after the day of delivery, so it’s probably not that.
As I thought about it, I smelled a rabbit nearby.
—It’s here, again. I’ll catch it this time.
I crept up close to the rabbit that hadn’t noticed my presence, as I was afar. Holding the vine to catch it in my hands, I slowly approached it. Just a little more —it noticed!
I ran to chase the rabbit that escaped with great vigour.
It took refuge in the forest, but it’s fine. I can trace it by scent.
Running with silent steps, I estimated its position and appeared in front of it. —I caught it!
I held it by the scruff of its neck and pressed it from behind, and quickly tied it up with the vines. It was round, plump and fresh. I felt angry thinking of how it’d gotten fat eating the vegetables from the field, but I forgave it because it was going to end up in Rio’s stomach after all the twists and turns.
Rio will surely be happy to see the delicious rabbit. He’ll praise me, he’ll pat me on the head and he’ll hug me tight, even if isn’t the morning.
When I gave a snort in satisfaction and looked at my surroundings —Where is this?
—It’s easy to get lost in the forest, so don’t go any further than from where you can see the house. There are magic beasts if you venture deeper in, so it’s dangerous.
—If you get lost, don’t move and sit still in one place, and make some noise to let me know of your place. All right?
Remembering Rio’s words, I sat down at that spot.
It’ll soon be dinner time. Rio will come searching immediately.

“Neil—!”

See, I told you. Rio called out. Here, I’m here. I’m not there.
I made a sound, throwing a stone on hand, but Rio couldn’t hear such a small noise.

“Neil! —Please reply!!”

Rio’s voice was trembling. Was he crying? Rio, you can’t cry. If you wanna cry, cry beside me. I have to let out my voice and call out to Rio to tell him I’m here.

—Rio.

The hoarse voice was tiny, but it reached Rio properly this time.
Rio, who came running immediately, his legs gave away and he hugged me tight as he fell.

“Neil, Neil…! ………Th-thank , goodness….”

The warm body. The scent of the Snow Blossoms that clung to his body. —Rio’s scent.
I felt a sharp numbness suddenly.
The trembling and hoarse crying voice. I was unable to bear it and while patting his back softly, I tried to ask, ‘…Rio, were you worried?’

“Stupid, such a thing, isn’t it obvious!!”

Rio, who raised his head suddenly, shouted at me with tears eyes.
Sorry, I was chasing a rabbit and lost my way.
I knew Rio would come, so I waited.

My words were intermittent because I was finally talking after a long time, but I somehow managed to explain.

“—Neil, your voice!!”

Because his eyes, that were the shade of the sky, turned round as he stared, I laughed in elation.
If his eyes open so wide, I worry as it feels as if his pupils will fall out. The eyes the shade of the sky, now misted with tears, sparkles like the skies after the rain stopped.
Because I was unable to endure it, when his laughter spilled, I gave him a kiss on his lips.

“〜〜〜Hey, that’s wrong. It’s on the cheeks for family.”

It’s not wrong, Rio.
For me, Rio is special. Really special.
But I’m only a kid to Rio, so I’ll only be family for now.
I’ll grow big quickly and when I become taller than Rio …at that time.

As my head was patted roughly, the two of us returned home.
—the rabbit meat stew that day was the most delicious.


T/N:

[1] Up until this point Neil has been using gender neutral terms for Rio. But it doesn’t make sense in English, so a note it is.

[1] You know that feeling when you see your neighbor’s cute and fluffy corgi and you just wanna bury your face in its coat? Well, the Japanese have got a word for that too. It’s mofumofu. So next time you wanna cuddle that dog, just say you wanna mofumofu it〜

Hasr11:
One word. Onomatopoeia. This novel has a shit ton of them lol. I usually try to translate them to their closest English equivalent or just leave them out altogether. Coz I dunno about you guys, but reading stuff like ‘washiwashi’ ‘gusugusu’ and ‘yurayura’ in a translated novel just breaks the immersion for me.

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